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The Communicators

News/Business. People who shape the digital future.

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00:30:00

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ac3

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704

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480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

At&t 6, Brendan Sasso 4, Brendan 3, Sopa 3, Obama Administration 3, Us 3, John Mccain 2, U.s. 2, Verizon 2, Halifax 2, Genachowski 2, Fcc 2, Eliza Krigman 2, Jim Demint 1, Ms. Krigman 1, Virginia 1, Sasso 1, Cliff Sterns 1, Mr. Sasso 1, Washington 1,
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  CSPAN    The Communicators    News/Business. People who  
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    January 7, 2013
    8:00 - 8:30am EST  

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twitter.com/booktv. >> you've been watching booktv, 48 hours of book programming beginning saturday morning at 8 eastern through monday morning at 8 eastern. nonfiction books all weekend, every weekend right here on c-span2. >> here's a look at what's coming up. next, "the communicators" with a reporters' round table on technology and telecom issues expected to be in play in 2013. then, senator john mccain and others speak at the annual halifax security forum on the u.s. role in global politics. and later we're live from the brookings institution with a forum on potential budget cuts to defense spending and how they could affect the nation's national security. >> host: well, with the 113th congress convening this month, we thought we'd take this opportunity on "the
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communicators" and look at their legislative agenda and the policy agenda of the federal communications commission. joining us are three reporters who cover technology policy. gautham nagesh of congressional quarterly, what's an issue that you see forthcoming in the next congress? >> guest: well, i think cybersecurity remains the top priority because of its national security implications. we saw that congress failed to reach an agreement on cybersecurity legislation in 2012 as perhaps many would have predicted. they remain very far apart because industry is very opposed to any sort of cybersecurity standards. that being said, the administration has threatened to implement a lot of their legislation via executive order which sort of gives them the negotiating leverage, and we've also had reports the economists reported that president obama addressed a secret executive collaboration between b the administration and the private sector. we will see more action, i
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think, in the first half. legislation still seems a very difficult proposition. >> host: go back to that secret directive. will that become public at some point or reviewed by congress? >> guest: it's very difficult to say. as i said, it's not something that's been reported quite a bit. there was only a passing reference in the december 8th issue of the economists, but it essentially addresses one of the most controversial aspects of the cybersecurity regime which is how the government helps private sector companies, whether or not that is legal under current law because there are rules against sharing information with the government from private sector companies, especially regarding their climates. again, there's very little known about that. what we do know is the government is very insistent that there needs to be some sort of rules change that would enable the programs that already take place to do so under the law. >> host: brendan sasso is with the hill, what's an issue that you wanted to bring up,
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mr. sasso? >> guest: i'd say net neutrality could be a big issue in the next year. the d.c. circuit is currently considering verizon's challenge to the fcc's rules. it's unclear exactly how the court is going to rule, but there are indications on similar issues in the past that the d.c. circuit's been skeptical of the fcc's authority. so if they strike down the rules, that sets the fcc back to square one. whether there'd be a push in congress to enact a law for net neutrality is a possibility, but i don't see the house republicans going for it. so that would put it all back up in the air, and we'd be back to square one on net neutrality. >> host: so do you see that coming to congress at some point, or do you see the court actually making a decision? >> guest: well, the court is going to make a decision, and tacked come early this year. and if they uphold the rules, they're going to be safe, and that's going to be the standard now. if they strike them down, then it'll be whether congress is going to try to act to give the fcc explicit authority in this area. as long as the republicans
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control the house, i don't see that happening. but the other issue is that if the court does strike down the rule, it's even broader than just those regulations in particular because it puts the fcc's power to regulate the internet into question. and that's really the core of the issue here. so not just net neutrality, but any action on the data caps or other similar issues. it's whether the fcc has the power to regulate the main communication service of the 21st century or whether, you know, is it going to become a sort of outdated agency, like it would be regulating telegraph when everyone else has moved on to a different communication service. >> host: another technology reporter is eliza krigman of politico. ms. krigman, issue? >> guest: thanks so much for having me on the show, peter. i would agree with brendan, actually. i think net neutrality is the biggest issue. it has to do with regulating the internet which is, of course, the most important platform in in communications right now, and
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i would add to his answer a little bit, i think the conventional wisdom is that the court is likely to strike it down. even the supporters of the rule are uncomfortable with the fact that the commission did not use what's known as title ii authority under the communications act to craft those regulations. they went with something under title i they fell was weak under the law. and so they're very nervous about that. of course, nobody has a crystal ball and knows exactly what will happen, so i think it is likely that that question are go back to congress. and it's unlikely that republicans will go for it, but will democrats make a big push? be another thing to consider about this issue is will google as one tech veteran said to me provide the same role as corporate rabbi, if you will, to guide this issue forward? if you recall several years ago, you know, they came up with a deal with verizon, it was a top issue for hem.
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a lot -- for them. a lot has changed since that time, and now they have a much more diverse portfolio of public policy issues to deal with, so i think it'll be very interesting to see who comes to the stage to make a play for net neutrality if the court does, you know, strike down the rules. >> host: well, speaking of issues that have been around for a while, there's talk potentially in the 113th of rewriting the cable act; of rewriting the telecom act from the 1990s. what kind of future of do you see for those issues? >> guest: there's a lot of talk, and there's been a lot of talk for about a decade. based on my reporting, i'm not personally convinced there's going to be any kind of major rewrite, and i think it would be prudent to raise the point that one of the great champions, senator jim demint, has stepped down throwing a lot of questions into the arena about, um, who is going to champion these issues and how in the next congress, and i don't see an
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mealed, overwhelming appetite to dig in and do all of the tremendous work it would be for a rewrite. and i don't think that there's consensus on the hill. maybe there's consensus in industry that there should be a rewrite that a whole rewrite is the way to go. i think some members are more inclined to try and just deal with specific issues and think it might be just too difficult at this point. one has to remember b that that law really came from a 1934 communications law. is it worth kind of digging into all the arcane past? i think that ooh's big -- that's a big, open question. you have to think about who's going to be in the leadership spots of the issue. likely senator john thune as head of the committee, and it's not confirmed yet, but senator roger wicker is likely to become the ranking member of the communications and internet panel.
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so, and, you know, all those things have yet to be solidified, so i think we have a big question mark hanging over that, but i would lean towards saying it's unlikely to see a huge rewrite. >> guest: i think the broader question with rewriting the cable act is we are in a period of great disruption of communication services, and it really hasn't shaken out yet. things like netflix, apple, itunes store, tablet computers have dramatically changed the way we consume content. it is not yet clear how consumers prefer to get their content when all available options are there, and legislating in the middle of this sort of disruption, you run the risk that your legislation will quickly become obsolete, and it already tends to be behind the pace of technology. so i think lawmakers are fairly astute about the fact that legislation tends to lag behind technology. and they may give it some more time to shake out before they try to set these boundaries which will effectively constrain
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innovation in some fashion. it's just how it's going to do it. >> host: brendan sasso, another issue. >> guest: well, the google antitrust case. we thought,. >> host: from the fcc. >> guest: right, the chairman of the federal trade commission has been saying we'll get this done by the end of the year, and it's not done yet. so it's now dragged into this year. it seemed like, it looked like the federal trade commission was going to walk away without taking any aggressive action against google over the main issue which is search bias, whether that violates fair competition law. but then it looked like that was where the federal trade commission was going to go, but then the european commission -- which was also investigating google -- looked like it was going to take more aggressive action, and it seems like the federal trade commission at the last moment sort of decided well, maybe if google's going to have to play ball with the europeans, maybe we can extract
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similar concessions. also the state attorneys general were a bit upset that they had been left out of these negotiations and were pushing the ftc to be more aggressive. and so it's now dragged into this year. it looks like -- for a while, the federal trade commission was going to take aggressive action, and then it looked like, oh, well, now they're not, and now it again looks like maybe they'll get some sort of concessions out of google. >> host: eliza krigman? >> guest: i agree that's going to be a big issue. of i think another big issue is going to be implementing the incentive auctions to create more spectrum, so the fcc has its sleeves rolled up and is in the midst of working on that. some of the hot button issues on that are unlicensed spectrum, you know, that powers wi-fi and the other amazing devices that the tech sector is coming up with all the time. and there's a real riff between republican lawmakers and the fcc
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over the appropriate way to create this unlicensed spectrum. you have conservative lawmakers worried that they are going to create at the expense of money that could be brought in to help reduce the deficit and build out the national public safety network, and the fcc, of course, feels that it's proposed plan is good and that there's going to be enough money for both. another big issue is whether or not at&t or verizon are going to be able to gobble up all of the spectrum that comes to auction. so we'll be watching closely to see how the fcc form lates its -- formulates its policy to allow smaller players to get a piece of the action when it's finally ready to do that. >> host: gautham nagesh? >> guest: on the topic of the google antitrust suit, i think that is perhaps the most watched by the commercial sector because it's really going to set the
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tone for the second term how aggressive the obama administration will choose to be on antitrust issues. they've just confirmed a new head of the antitrust division, bill baer, and we have yet to know what sort of tone. they've been very aggressive. they've blocked several other technology cases. google's antitrust suit could without risk of hyperbole shape the landscape of the internet. because if google is not allowed to continue doing business as it does, it would change the understanding of the search market as it currently stands, and a sort of uninterested arbiter of links. it sees itself as an answers engine. essentially, they're offering consumers services they wallet. once the government starts defining markets on the internet, then they become again, you know, isolated, and there will be rules to them, and it will put barriers to entry
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for smaller companies, so it would have a far-reaching impact if they were to take some sort of action on the core question as brendan mentioned. what we saw, i think, was that a very sophisticated lobbying campaign by google, i think, on both sides of the aisle really had an impact, i think, on how regulators viewed the core question. and then at the same time we saw the fear on the the regulators' part of being seen to be less powerful or achieving less than their european counterparts. so it's very, there's a lot still up in the air. we don't know ma what's going to happen with that. as for the incentive auction, i think eliza hit on the big points which are unlicensed spectrum and limits on how much companies can buy. but the wireless market itself has changed, i think, since the justice department blocked the t-mobile/at&t merger. they've shown some sign of growth, they have a lot of cash and spectrum now from at&t as a result of the deal failing, and
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they are making an attempt to build inroads. they're building a 4g network, so they are attempting to compete as the nation's fourth wireless, and they have an impact on cost because they offer lower cost plans. and then sprint is under the process of being acquired by a very large and wealthy japanese firm that would have the financial resources to compete with verizon, at&t for spectrum. that won't be done in time for this incentive auction -- >> host: it won't be done in time? >> guest: we don't know exactly. the incentive auction is supposed to take place, i think n2014. that might be tight for clear wire. but these things tend to take longer than they're -- >> host: is there any controvert about the sprint -- controversy about the sprint/clearwire -- >> guest: clearwire's a japanese company, it's very large. they don't have a controlling interest in any other wireless firms. so, yeah, i have not heard major concerns t not like -- huawei. >> there you go, thank you.
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>> guest: the chinese company that attempted inroads. those concerns are definitely not at play. >> guest: i would just say at&t has been raising some concerns, i don't know whether that'll gain traction, and it sort of seems like they're still bitter because sprint waged an all-out campaign, even filed a separate antitrust lawsuit. so if at&t can cause headaches for sprint, for whether a foreign company is going to gain control of the telecommunications services, then i'm sure they'll take that opportunity to cause those headaches. >> guest: it's worth noting that, for example, t-mobile is owned by a foreign company, so it's not unprecedented for one of the major wireless carriers to be owned by a foreign company. >> guest: i would just add the other big issue is whether congress will push to free up spectrum that's currently used by federal agencies. we haven't even held these auctions of tv broadcast spectrum yet, and the wireless industry's already saying that it isn't going to be enough, we're still going to have the
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spectrum crunch, we the till need more. and a lot of the spectrum is currently used by the defense department and other federal users. and, obviously, they're not in any hurry to give that up. it's whether congress will force them to move and how expensive that would be, i think, is going to be an issue taken up in this congress. >> guest: and i would add that we did see recently the house chairman of the defense committee, i believe, come out and make a public remark about working with the defense department to clear up spectrum. and i think that was noteworthy because previously it's really been an issue just the energy and commerce committee has dealt with. and i think it's a sign that they are making more of a comprehensive push to pressure the defense department to find, you know, some airwaves that they can relinquish to the private sector. >> host: go ahead, gautham. >> guest: i would just add i think spectrum reallocation from the government to the private
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sec or to have will be a priority in this coming year. senator thune offered an amendment to the defense authorization bill in december which would have directed, i believe, the 1450 band of spectrum -- i'm not certain about that -- but a band of spectrum that is currently held by the defense department, would have directed it to be freed up for commercial use. so he's shown that that's a priority for him. and the wireless companies are probably correct in the sense that their appetite for spectrum will not be sated by this coming auction. it will be something like 500 megahertz at most, and that is really not in line with the growing appetite for mobile data consumption and video and all those sorts of things. so government's coming up with some sort of new plan. we've heard lawrence strickling and other officials talk about sharing spectrum, essentially, between the wireless companies in many some fashion. so we'll probably see more discussion of that. >> host: p.r.n. can sasso, eliza krigman mentioned the new leadership in the senate, but who are some of the new leaders
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in the house that we should keep an eye on? >> guest: well, i mean, a lot of -- i think a lot of the people are going to be -- well, on the judiciary committee we've got good lath is going to be taking over, and smith is going to be moving to the science, space and technology committee -- >> host: so bob goodlatte of virginia's going to be the new chair of the judiciary committee? >> guest: right. so, and he was involved in the writing of sopa. whether they're going to try to take up some sort of new copyright enforcement is yet to be seen. >> host: do you see sopa, pipa policy proposal coming forward begun? >> guest: i don't think there's an ap tide for the -- appetite for the same fight again. whether there'll be some sort of effort to have enforcement of copyright rules online i think is a possibility, but, i mean, i think a lot of lawmakers you wea little frightened by how the
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sopa fight went and the backlash to that. i think the movie industry and the recording industry is kind of looking for maybe some smaller issues that they can push. >> host: now, lee terry is taking over for cliff sterns, correct? on the energy and commerce committee, is that right? >> guest: no. he is taking over the position that mary bono mack had on the commerce manufacturing and trade subcommittee, and b marsha blackburn in terms of new leadership position is going to be the vice chair of the full energy and commerce committee. so it'll be interesting to see, um, how and whether she tries to assert her authority in that new role. she has actually told me that she's interested in tackling something related to piracy, but i would agree with brendan that it's very unlikely. i think a broader, more important part of this discussion is that a ghost of the sopa/pipa revolt haunts this
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congress now, and all members are extremely wary of trying to enact law with technology today perhaps don't have an expertise on and don't understand all the ramifications. and i think that will be an issue. i hear again b and again from various lobbyists every time they talk to a member and propose something, and they say this isn't going to be like sopa, is it? nobody's interested to have a repeat in that. >> host: well, gautham nagesh, what about potential changes at the federal communications commission? >> guest: that's the big question, really. the commission is at full strength with the confirmation of ajit pai and jessica rosenworcel. everyone is waiting to see what chairman julius genachowski chooses to do. there was widespread belief he would be leaving office.
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however, those plans reportedly have been placed on hold. no one really knows what the chairman is choosing to do. it looks like he may stay. i think it's fair to say his legacy is very uncertain at this point. net neutrality was really supposed to be chairman genachowski's legacy, i think, when he came in. it has passed, but many of its allies have either abandoned the commission in some fashion or are arguing that they didn't go far enough in the rules that they implemented. and also those rules are on shaky legal ground. so as eliza said, the betting odds that they will not stand up to the challenge by the same court that threw out their previous rules. reclassification is still an option. i would not be surprised if the rules were struck down if the fcc under genachowski chose to reclassify still. but regardless, i think chairman genachowski, what he chooses to do and if he leaves, who the chowzs to replace him will really define the president's
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legacy on tech and telecom issues. >> reclassification would be a huge political -- [inaudible] it's not just about the issue is whether net neutrality is a small issue compared to the power of -- if the fcc reclassifies what they consider the internet, they would now have the power to regulate it in the way old telephone companies could sort of set prices. and it's much more control that the fcc would have, and i think lawmakers would, they would freak out over if the fcc tried to do that. at every hearing when the commissioners are before congress, even when that's not the subject, it still comes up. they haven't closed the docket, and the democrats usually say something like, well, we're still considering it, we haven't made any decisions. and the republicans would like to make a decision to not reclassify it. >> host: eliza krigman, you looked like you wanted to say something. >> guest: well, yeah. i agree with that assessment and, yes, i mean, republicans in particular would go ballistic if they did that. but maybe if they feel that's
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their best option, they'll go forward. it'll make great copy for us. but, yeah, another issue that i think will be big in the next congress is the internet radio fairness act, and that is a bill aimed at creating parity between webcasters like pandora and the royalties they receive and the rest of the, you know, radio outlets. they currently pay a higher rate, and in a few years -- i believe 2014 -- then independent loyalty board will go through a process of devieding the rates again. so they're in a huge lobbying battle with, like, the recording industry association of america and other groups to try and push this legislation forward, and they have, interestingly, have both republican and democrat champions of this measure in the house. but we're kind of at the beginning phase of the lobbying.
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they did hold a hearing over the lame duck period, and it'll be interesting to see how this plays out when more members get involved and not just those who, b um, draft the legislation. >> host: brendan sasso, senator rockefeller introduced following newtown violent video game review. >> guest: right. >> host: will that get traction? >> guest: i could see his bill passing, because he introduced a bill that was just requiring a study of the effect of violence in video games and tv and other media. so i could see that being something that gets sort of fast tracked through. whether there's actually any action on it, i think, is probably less likely. and whether any action would stand up in the courts is even less likely. the supreme court had a decision in 2011, i think, where they struck down california's requirement that minors under 18 couldn't buy certain violent video games. and that was kind of considered
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the most likely to be able to stand up in the courts, and that was struck down as a violation of free speech. so i'm not sure. with that decision i'm not sure what the court or what congress could do in terms of regulation of violence in the media. >> host: gautham nagesh, we have three minutes left in this taping of "the communicators", and the word privacy has not come up yet. why not? >> guest: because while privacy will continue to be, i think, the largest issue for most internet companies, the likelihood of congress doing anything on the topic, i think, is very small. we have seen the federal trade commission has taken the lead on privacy issues, and they recently implemented new children's online privacy issues which tech companies are complaining about, saying they're quite onerous. but regardless, passing privacy legislation, i think, is a bridge too far for this congress just because of the outcry it would create from companies like google or facebook or anyone else that collects personal
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information from consumers. i think we'll see administrative action, we'll see the obama administration via the ftc keep implementing companies' privacy 30eu8s as de facto regulations. the companies will have to keep to their word, essentially, on privacy. and as we have seen with companies like facebook and inthat gram, when they change their word, there are enough people using them, and we see a public b backlash, and then we see the companies often have to buckle and backtrack on some of these changes. that has moved much quicker than any regulation could. so for now, i think, it's going to be status quo. we're going to keep having ?epts that are going to -- incidents that are going to outrage the public, but i really don't think washington moves quickly enough to respond to some of these concerns. >> guest: well, i would say do not track there's been these sort of voluntary talks. big event at the white house, the advertising industry promised to come to the table
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and work this out, and that didn't happen. so there were law makers and regulators including chairman leibowitz at the ftc who have been saying, well, we're going to give the industry a chance to try this on its own, and now that that's failed, there seems to be interest in creating ab option where -- an option where people could opt out of tracking online. >> host: eliza krigman? >> guest: i agree with gautham, it's an area that's difficult to legislate, and despite the fact that there's so much concern about it, a lot of members feel the best thing they can do is kind of keep the pressure on industry and continue to make it a high profile issue so that companies have to be on guard about this and pushed really hard for traction participant si -- transparency measures and simplification steps to that. you'll have to sign an 8-page, dense agreement. it's easy for one to understand, um, what information is being collected about this 'em and where it's going. >> host: and, unfortunately,
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we're out of time. eliza krigman covers technology for pretty quay. gautham nagesh is the editor of the technology executive briefing for congressional quarterly. and brendan sasso is a technology reporter with the hill newspaper. thank you all very much for being on "the communicators." >> guest: thank you. >> guest: thanks for having us. >> anticipators also airs in -- "the communicators" also airs in prime time on monday night. if you missed this discussion, you can watch this program again tonight at 8 p.m. eastern here on c-span2. and you can also watch it anytime online. log on to our web site at c-span.org. click the series tab and select "the communicators." you can also watch other regularly-scheduled c-span programs at this series link. c-span.org is your online resource for public affairs programming.
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>> in november senator john mccain spoke at the fourth annual halifax international security summit. he criticized the obama administration's policy towards syria and talked about the u.s. role in dealing with global issues. joining him were canadian foreign minister peter mackay and colombia's foreign defense minister. this runs a little over an hour. >> good afternoon. the last session before lunch. the good guys, the special burden of democratic nations, and i'm going to hand over straight away to our moderator, kathleen koch, to get proceedings underway. >> thank you, robin. and thank you all for joining us today. the title of our panel, um, in and of itself "the good guys" question mark, i think, really does reflect the internal debate and the self-doubt that many in our community of democracy have been going through today as we look at